DASH! This brings to mind a diet where you bolt your food as quickly as possible, so that everything goes straight through without touching the sides.

Oh! For a diet to be that easy! In fact, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and as the name suggests, the diet was designed to reduce high blood pressure. High blood pressure should never be ignored, as left untreated may lead to heart attack or stroke. However, rather than see recently diagnosed high blood pressure as a fait accompli, it responds very well to Nutritional Therapy, so long as you are committed to change.

Talk to your doctor about trying the nutritional approach before medication. The DASH diet focuses on reducing salt intake (known to increase blood pressure) by choosing foods naturally low in sodium and high in the minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium (known to reduce blood pressure). Emphasis is on eating plenty of colourful vegetables and fruit and limiting fats and sugars.

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Lean meat and whole grains are included, plus low fat diary products. Rarely, high blood pressure is an isolated condition.  More commonly, it is associated with other medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, thyroid and adrenal disorders, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and frequently the result of lifestyle factors such as chronic stress, lack of exercise, tobacco smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.

Is the DASH Diet just for high blood pressure?

The Western diet typically is high in sugar and fried foods and reducing these (non foods) and increasing vegetables and fruit intake will naturally reduce calorie intake and have a positive, knock on effect for health.  You may well find that you need a smaller size in trousers, or that your diabetes is improving. And if you are used to having to strain hard on the toilet, this should be a thing of the past.

dash diet eating plan_2

Increasing magnesium and potassium intake with high vegetable consumption.

13% of British woman have Magnesium intake below the LRNI (Lower Reference Nutrient Intake).  This is a shocking amount. The LRNI is the amount of nutrient needed for just 2.5% of the population.

The majority will need much more!

To give you an idea of how much Magnesium the body needs, it is necessary for over 300 biochemical processes in the body. The result of low levels (apart from raised blood pressure) can include: tiredness and insomnia, cramping, muscle spasms, irregular heart rhythms, headaches, depression, anxiety and much more. Indirectly, the DASH diet may also help with these symptoms, as magnesium levels in the body improve by eating green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

My thoughts on the DASH Diet:

DASH works to reduce blood pressure predominately because the diet is such a vast improvement for most.  People are just not used to eating good quantities of vegetables and fruit and positively changing this will improve health.

The diet is good, but it can be very much improved! 

The DASH diet was designed back in the early 1990’s and as with most diets, research has evolved.  The diet needs to be updated to include recent evidence.  One example I can give you is the inclusion of margarine, which we now know to be damaging to health due to hydrogenated fat.  If you would like support to incorporate a healthy version on the DASH diet, then I would love to hear from you.

A thought to take away

46% of children aged 11-18 years have intakes of magnesium BELOW the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake.  What health problems are we storing for today’s child? For more information about the DASH diet: ‘Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH: DASH Eating Plan’ By the US Department of Heath and Human Services https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/new_dash.pdf

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